Imagine a ‘Masterplan’ being hatched! In the guise of progress a health bomb. The Union Minister Nitin Gadkari’s ‘Masterplan’ to increase the coal handling capacity at Mormugao Port using construction and development of roads and railways as a guise to promote Coal import into Goa is a health bomb waiting to explode.
Deadly impact of Coal
Coal dust emanating from handling at the Port and while transporting through villages will cause immense health hazards to the villagers.
In the 1990s, vessels carrying coal started docking at the port. The coal would be kept in open air heaps before transporting to other states in trucks and rail wagons. As the sea breeze carried the coal dust eastwards to the city,(the city of Vasco also extends eastwards from the port), residents began to complain of breathing problems.
Preparations for increasing Coal transportation on in full-swing
Outside the port, the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is building three highways that residents say will help the companies transport the coal through the villages and forests of Goa to the neighbouring state of Karnataka.
Besides the Union Minister of Shipping is also backing a project to deepen the port channel to help larger cargo vessels dock. Currently, the approach channel that ships use to reach the port was about 15 metres deep, allowing only the second-largest class of vessels, known as Panamax, to dock. Capesize, the largest sized vessels, can carry double the load of Panamax, but require a depth of almost 20 metres.
Plans are also afoot to increase the rail tracks to double-tracking as Coal from the port is typically loaded onto rail wagons and sent through Southwestern Railways. The current route is heavily congested and therefore double-tracking will aid in transportation of higher capacities of coal.
MPT is one of India’s 12 major ports under the central government’s control giving Mr. Gadkari, honourable Union Minister full control.
Besides, for JSW, Vasco-da-Gama seems to be the closest port and saves them huge transportation costs on coal, being situated just across the border in Karnataka. Thus a better road network, with upgraded roads and highways will ensure smooth supply of coal from the Goa port to the companies across the borders.
Two-thirds of the cargo handled at the Mormugao Port consist of Coal. JSW Group who currently operate two berths for Coal import, want to double their capacity from 7 million tonnes to 14 million tonnes annually. JSW Steel runs the largest steel plant in the Bellary-Hospet region of Karnataka.
Not far behind are the 5 million tonnes of Adani Group and 7 million tonnes of Vedanta.
Today, the amount of Coal landing at the Vasco port totals 26 million tonnes. Almost 5 times higher than that handled in 2012, when the court case was heard in the High Court.
Upgrading the railway tracks and rail network will only enhance the process of coal delivery across the state border.There is no guarantee that the other companies Adani and Vedanta don’t increase their coal imports as well.
More coal means more coal dust. Many more people will get affected. Currently, the fear of coal dust pollution looms large. The unsuspecting ‘aam aadmi’ is almost clueless about the Union minster’s masterplan.
Write in and let us know whether you think this is a clever ‘Masterplan’. Is progress a guise?
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